With summer comes the excitement of vacations and the opportunity to explore new places. But 2020 has thrown us all for a loop; feelings of wanderlust and plans of sight-seeing have come to a halt thanks to COVID-19.
Lucky for you, QA+M is filled with travel-lovers and adventure-seekers who are using this time to reflect on places they’ve been. In this blog, we take a look at our past travel destinations and the unique architectural features that inspire us as designers. So if you haven’t had a chance to travel and your summer has been an uneventful one, buckle up for a QA+M virtual vacation!
First, we visit Florence, Italy with Interior Designer, Angela Carlson.–––
“Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the heart of Florence and the city’s most well-known landmark. It was designed by Brunelleschi and is admired for its Gothic architecture. What amazed me most about this cathedral is the fact that it is visible from all over the city as it stands above the rest of the buildings.”
"La Menagere Restaurant used to be one of my favorite spots to go to when studying abroad. The designer focused on the use of mixed texture with rough concrete, wood accents, and industrial metal, creating a very rustic and inviting design. Hanging greenery welcomes you into their store and flower shop, and natural light really opens up the space.”
Kent McCoy, Associate Principal, takes us to Bruges, Belgium.
“Beguinage, circa 1245, is a complex of buildings which housed a community of women. It was not a religious order of any sort – it was women who banded together to live and work communally. Many of them had been widowed by the Crusades or the Plague, and it provided a way for them to make their way in the world without dependence on (or interference from) men. I found the concept so interesting, and the way it was expressed architecturally; all the houses or workshops are arranged in a circle around a central shared green. There is still a sense of peace, purpose, and order about the place.”
Next, Architectural Emerging Professional, Jack Tuohy, shows us around Paris, France.
"Le Centre Pompidou, Paris is a cultural center for Paris designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. This building is one that we all studied during college, but to see it in person was fascinating. It’s 'inside out' concept is immediately apparent, with all the major structural, mechanical, and circulation elements exposed on the exterior of the building. All these elements are color-coded, giving the exterior a feel of a modern work of art itself."
"Arab World Institute, Paris is a building that put Jean Nouvel on the architectural world’s map. This building was one of the more mesmerizing buildings that I visited while in Paris. The south side of the building is covered in squares of automated lenses that can control the building's light intake. This is controlled by a computer system that monitors temperature and sunlight, allowing the camera-like lenses to open and close as needed. The entire façade of the building pays homage to the lattice screens that are commonly found on traditional buildings in Arab countries."
On our way back to the States we visit Montreal, Canada where we meet with Interior Designer Angela Carlson once more.
Habitat 67 | Montreal, Canada
“This housing complex was designed similar to stacked shipping containers. It’s all made from prefabricated concrete forms and are joined together to create larger units. What I found most interesting was how simplistic and minimalist the design was, including the interior.”
Palais de Congres | Montreal, Canada “The exterior of this building is hard to miss with its vibrant and colorful glass panels that stick out among the more traditional buildings surrounding it."
And lastly, we finish off with Associate Angela Cahill and a visit to Grand Canyon Village, Arizona.
“Each year up until Covid-19, I have taken my kids on their spring break to see places with amazing architecture. We usually visit cities, but this time we chose Arizona. Here we saw the Desert View Watchtower, built in 1932 on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and designed by female architect Mary Colter. The structure includes outdoor observation decks, and the inside of the tower is an open shaft with circular stairs and balconies. It’s hard to say what was more amazing... the views or the structure!”